Resources on Young Adult Literature

By Weisbard, Phyllis Holman | Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women's Studies Resources, Winter 2007 | Go to article overview

Resources on Young Adult Literature


Weisbard, Phyllis Holman, Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women's Studies Resources


Joanne Brown & Nancy St. Clair, DECLARATIONS OF INDEPENDENCE: EMPOWERED GIRLS IN YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE, 1990-2001. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2002. 194p. index. (Scarecrow studies in young adult literature, 7.) $37.50, ISBN 0810842904. (Reviewed by Nicole Grapentine-Benton.)

Michael Cart & Christine A. Jenkins, THE HEART HAS ITS REASONS: YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE WITH GAY/LESBIAN/QUEER CONTENT, 1969-2004. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2006. 207p. (Scarecrow studies in young adult literature, 18.) index. $42.00, ISBN 978-0810850712.

Kenneth L. Donelson & Aileen Pace Nilsen, LITERATURE FOR TODAY'S YOUNG ADULTS, 7th ed. Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon, 2005. 478p. ill. $ 109.60, ISBN 978-0205410354.

Shelley Mosley & John Charles, THE SUFFRAGISTS IN LITERATURE FOR YOUTH: THE FIGHT FOR THE VOTE. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2006. (Literature for youth, 10). 323p. index. pap., $45.00, ISBN 978-0-8108-5372-0.

Carl M. Tomlinson & Carol Lynch-Brown, ESSENTIALS OF YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2007. 304p. $55.20, ISBN 978-0205290147.

Alice Trupe, THEMATIC GUIDE TO YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2006. 259p. index. $65.00, ISBN 0-313-33234-7.

In upcoming issues of Feminist Collections we are turning our attention to Girls' Studies in the academy as well as resources about, for, and in some cases by girls. Reference works are also a part of that corpus, and as a taste of what's to come, we look at several recent monographs and textbooks that can help librarians, teachers, and parents select books for young adult girls (and boys). "Young adult" books generally are aimed at twelve- to seventeen-year-olds, although some may be enjoyed by precocious younger readers and others were originally written for adults but feature teen-age protagonists and have become popular with that age group.

Librarians and teachers thrust into the role of selecting young adult (YA) literature will gain confidence in their selections if they first explore the history and intentions of the field. This can be accomplished by consulting textbooks used in education and library science courses on young adult literature. Both an old standby, Literature for Today's Young Adults, now in its seventh edition, and a new text from the same publisher, Essentials of Young Adult Literature, provide overviews of young adult literature, including criteria for evaluating them. Both cover the gamut of literary genres, from "realistic" contemporary fiction through poetry, humor, biographies, and science fiction. There are also some differences between the texts. Literature for ..., for example, includes a chapter on censorship, while Essentials has one on "multicultural and international literature." One can get introduced to the issues and themes of YA literature in either, however. My preference is for Literature for ..., because it is longer, includes more examples, goes into topics a bit deeper, and is more interesting on gender differences.

Both books express concern about getting boys interested in reading. Essentials has a three- paragraph section on "Boys Who Resist Reading" without a parallel "Girls Who Resist Reading." Literature for ... has a four-page section called "Questions About Gender and Literacy," which is also mostly about encouraging boys to read, although the authors conclude by cautioning that in the 1960s the focus was on boys, then in the 1980s on girls; and now, "[l]et's hope that this time we can get it right by focusing on the young people we work with as individuals" (p.45). Based on various cited studies, Essentials breaks down adolescent reading interests by gender, listing mysteries and scary stories/horror as having common appeal to boys and girls, but adventures, sports, science fiction and fantasy, and nonfiction on various subjects as more likely to interest boys. Additions to the girls' list are fewer: realistic stories and romances.

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